Experiencing the Known

What? One of the eight Knowledge Processes of Learning by Design. Experiencing the known means drawing on learners’ prior knowledge, their personal interests and concrete experiences and their community backgrounds. It means finding out what they already know and creating opportunities for them to share this knowledge with each other and the teacher. It means discovering students’ individual motivations, drawing on their lifeworld experiences and that which is everyday and familiar to them. Often a teacher will begin a unit of work with this Knowledge Process because it grounds the learning in the learner’s world and provides the teacher with insights as to where each learner is at the beginning and what they already know.

Why? ‘You are recognising what the students already know about a topic and affirming their knowledge, making them the expert and getting them to share this knowledge with each other…you’re also ascertaining for yourself where they are…then you can move on to build a new layer using another knowledge process.’ Rachael Yr9 English teacher.

How? The teacher could use a ‘Think-Pair-Share’ activity which involves each student working individually to think about and record what they know about ‘X’, then pairing up to share with a partner. Pairs are then selected by the teacher to share what they know with the class. This activity gets everyone thinking and involved in the learning and provides the conditions in which it is more likely that everyone will legitimately have something to say and importantly to he heard. Or the teacher could use a ‘Noisy Round Robin’ which is a tactic that can be used to draw on students’ prior knowledge and experiences. It involves and encourages contributions from all participants and provides a means for the teacher to gain insights into students understanding of a topic. Students are divided into small groups, they elect a scribe to record the group’s ideas and after a minute or two pass their sheet on to the group next to them, to add information or ideas. For a more complete description of the Noisy Round Robin see:


Also see: The Lanyon Tool-kit for additional Experiencing the known tools, tactics and references.

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